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Master Public Land
September 14, 2010
Focus On Thickets
In most cases, a veteran buck will immediately head for the thickest and ugliest cover in the woods when the hunting pressure gets cranked up. Strategically hanging stands or setting up ground blinds along the outside edges of thick cover can generate some action-packed trips. The key is to stick to your stand throughout prime periods when other hunters are on the move and pushing deer.
Break The Cycle
Ironically, an old buck can often pattern us quicker than we can figure out his daily habits and routines. This is exactly why we should break the cycle and mix things up by hunting our stands during odd or unusual times. Sometimes the late morning and mid-afternoon hours can be much more productive on public land, especially when the woods are full of other hunters.
Fight The Weather
Over the years, many big bucks have learned that it's safe to move during adverse weather conditions. It's amazing how a little bit of wind, rain, or snow can completely drive other hunters out of the woods. Throwing on some waterproof gear and staying in your stand during rough weather can be one of the fastest ways to connect with a sneaky public-land monster.
Take The Hard Road
On public land, most hunters are not going to venture too far away from the road or their vehicles. Hunters who are willing to burn a little boot leather and jump off the beaten path can access hard to reach areas that typically hold pressured bucks. Topo maps and hand-held GPS units can be helpful when planning these backcountry hunts.
Find Alternate Routes
Entering highly-pressured areas through the backdoor or finding alternate routes can payoff big on public land. Utilizing a small canoe or mountain bike to reach isolated pockets of cover on the backsides of heavily hunted areas can produce some super close encounters with top-heavy bucks.
Utilize Hunting Pressure
Setting up stands that overlook possible big buck escape routes that lead away from known hunting pressure is a deadly technique for busting bruisers. Other hunters will often inadvertently push deer through these areas during the early morning and mid-day hours. Natural funnels such as mountain gaps, saddles, creek crossings, ditches, and pinch points can be prime locations to setup shop during periods of intense hunting pressure.
Hunt Overlooked Areas
Many mature bucks are able to grow massive racks by simply hiding out in strange and unusual places when hunters flood the woods. Crazy locations like small islands on lakes or rivers can be big buck hotspots. Also, don't overlook tiny woodlots and isolated pockets of public-land cover that border residential areas. Some of the smartest bucks in the woods will hangout right behind churches, campgrounds, or boat docks that are often overlooked by other hunters every season.
When hunting public land, it's extremely important to have several different hunting locations and setups. For good reason, there is a good chance that another hunter will walk right under your stand or sit only a few yards from your setup on any given morning. Your ability to be mobile and having multiple setups can dramatically increase your chances of taking home a wall-hanger.
Take A Sick Day
Faking a hacky cough and a sore throat can be just what the doctor ordered for a diehard public-land deer hunter. Simply taking a sick day and hunting during the middle of the week will give you exclusive access to areas that are generally covered up on the weekends. Veteran bucks are likely to sneak out of their safe havens and thick sanctuaries when other hunters are back at work.
Create Mock Trails
Using a rake or weed trimmer to clear out trails and paths that run directly through prime ambush areas can be a deadly public-land strategy. Spraying straight buck and doe urine along these mock routes will cause deer to start traveling your pre-selected trails. Being able to control how deer travel through your hunting area can help stack the cards in your favor.
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